'Why is the institution of marriage being changed without the public being asked'

Christian Comment with the Rev Stephen Earley, vicar of Nailsworth with Shortwood, Horsley and Newington Bagpath with Kingscote.

THIS week the Government has introduced a bill that seeks to redefine marriage.

I will have been married 40 years this year and I officiate regularly at weddings but no one has sought my opinion.

Is it right that this institution, which is the basis of our modern society is changed without the people of this country being asked if they agree?

'To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish,' are some of the powerful and emotive vows one person makes to another during a Church wedding.

They are powerful promises for one person to make to another - and are for life - 'till death us do part.' When a couple say these vows to each other, they are spoken with the utmost sincerity and often accompanied with tears of emotion - both by the couple and their loved ones who are gathered to witness this very special ceremony.

As a vicar in the Church of England I officiated at 22 weddings last year and have already had two this year with some 15 more to come - so I speak from marrying hundreds of couples.

It is reported that marriage is not so popular - but this is not my experience.

I would encourage everyone to be married in church - I will often say in my address that there is no better place to marry than in church - hotels, beaches, hot air balloons (?) are not the same and the importance of the occasion in two peoples lives is diminished - a frivolous occasion this is not.

The vows made in the presence of witnesses and before God are powerful.

One of my favourite 'thank you' comments was 'the church ceremony was the most special part of the whole occasion.

As wonderful as our reception was, our memories of the service are the ones we will cherish most'.

Is it not time that the silent majority started voicing their opinion - loudly - before it is too late?

Comments (16)

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9:20am Sun 3 Feb 13

cocteaut says...

Has it ever occurred to the author of this piece that not everyone is religious.
Has it ever occurred to the author of this piece that not everyone is religious. cocteaut
  • Score: 0

10:11pm Sun 3 Feb 13

Adie says...

What a load of homophobic rubbish. No wonder hardly anyone ever goes to his church. 
What a load of homophobic rubbish. No wonder hardly anyone ever goes to his church.  Adie
  • Score: 0

1:24pm Mon 4 Feb 13

JayBeetheRealOne says...

The institution of marriage as defined in this piece (that it only has value if vows are taken in church 'before God') has changed a long time ago. I understand that those who agree with Rev Earley may not like the proposed changes to the institution, but I'm sure most would agree that people should be able to make their vows to each other in a way that is most helpful to them to keep them over the years. Many people do not believe in a christian god or any kind of god and, quite rightly, want to make their commitment to each other in a more supportive and nurturing environment. This kind of comment is very unhelpful for the development of strong relationships and is in effect 'rabble-rousing'.
The institution of marriage as defined in this piece (that it only has value if vows are taken in church 'before God') has changed a long time ago. I understand that those who agree with Rev Earley may not like the proposed changes to the institution, but I'm sure most would agree that people should be able to make their vows to each other in a way that is most helpful to them to keep them over the years. Many people do not believe in a christian god or any kind of god and, quite rightly, want to make their commitment to each other in a more supportive and nurturing environment. This kind of comment is very unhelpful for the development of strong relationships and is in effect 'rabble-rousing'. JayBeetheRealOne
  • Score: 0

2:04pm Mon 4 Feb 13

Salendine says...

Thinly disguised homophobia. The concept of marriage, and indeed morality, pre-dates Christianity yet Christians claim it as their own. The Church continues to write its own epitaph. A shame really, because despite being an atheist I see there is much good that the Church does. Most worrying though is the Church still has a place in education. I'm appalled at this man being allowed anywhere near a school.
Thinly disguised homophobia. The concept of marriage, and indeed morality, pre-dates Christianity yet Christians claim it as their own. The Church continues to write its own epitaph. A shame really, because despite being an atheist I see there is much good that the Church does. Most worrying though is the Church still has a place in education. I'm appalled at this man being allowed anywhere near a school. Salendine
  • Score: 0

10:29pm Mon 4 Feb 13

frednorman22 says...

This article is ridiculous and as a Christian I am ashamed by it. Christians such as the Rev Earley need to stop focussing on minor detail in the Bible such as that about gay acts and realise the overall message of the Bible is to love and care for one another, and that includes whatever sexuality or gender someone is. It is no surprise people such as myself at deserting the CofE when it continues to come out with outdated and outrageous attitudes such as this and not even being willing to accept women bishops
This article is ridiculous and as a Christian I am ashamed by it. Christians such as the Rev Earley need to stop focussing on minor detail in the Bible such as that about gay acts and realise the overall message of the Bible is to love and care for one another, and that includes whatever sexuality or gender someone is. It is no surprise people such as myself at deserting the CofE when it continues to come out with outdated and outrageous attitudes such as this and not even being willing to accept women bishops frednorman22
  • Score: 0

11:01pm Mon 4 Feb 13

kjag23 says...

SNJ please stop publishing this hateful garbage.
SNJ please stop publishing this hateful garbage. kjag23
  • Score: 0

1:47pm Tue 5 Feb 13

BenKritkos says...

More to the point: why are some people such homophobes? I like the fact that it says "SNJ Reporter" in the byline. Who publishes opinion columns anonymously? A reporter reports, and them having this brainfart of a notion is not a newsworthy event.
More to the point: why are some people such homophobes? I like the fact that it says "SNJ Reporter" in the byline. Who publishes opinion columns anonymously? A reporter reports, and them having this brainfart of a notion is not a newsworthy event. BenKritkos
  • Score: 0

2:06pm Tue 5 Feb 13

BenKritkos says...

"I will have been married 40 years this year and I officiate regularly at weddings but no one has sought my opinion.

Is it right that this institution, which is the basis of our modern society is changed without the people of this country being asked if they agree?"

Why would they? Do they ask people's opinions on every issue of which the laws they enact will affect? Of course not. You live in a constitutional monarchy where you vote for representatives to make laws on your behalf.

And, in fairness, if they asked us all, you would still be complaining -- because most people in Britain support gay marriage.
"I will have been married 40 years this year and I officiate regularly at weddings but no one has sought my opinion. Is it right that this institution, which is the basis of our modern society is changed without the people of this country being asked if they agree?" Why would they? Do they ask people's opinions on every issue of which the laws they enact will affect? Of course not. You live in a constitutional monarchy where you vote for representatives to make laws on your behalf. And, in fairness, if they asked us all, you would still be complaining -- because most people in Britain support gay marriage. BenKritkos
  • Score: 0

2:31pm Tue 5 Feb 13

lukeaway says...

"No one has sought my opinion"....pompous beyond belief.
"No one has sought my opinion"....pompous beyond belief. lukeaway
  • Score: 0

4:19pm Tue 5 Feb 13

Cuthbert Thickett says...

Yup, the Reverend Stephen Early is a shining example of why the influence of the church is fading away for good or bad. Its high time vicars started preaching love and compassion for all, not just those they approve of.
Yup, the Reverend Stephen Early is a shining example of why the influence of the church is fading away for good or bad. Its high time vicars started preaching love and compassion for all, not just those they approve of. Cuthbert Thickett
  • Score: 0

9:31am Wed 6 Feb 13

wewillfixit says...

I am now in a state of marital confusion.

According to various MPs, my failure to procreate and my current lack on an intention to procreate means it isn't a real marriage, and according to Rev Earley, my lack of a christian marriage ceremony means it isn't a real marriage. But according to the bureaucrats who took money off me for the honour of getting married, it is.

Rev Earley, you do realise that in the UK there exists a legal civil marriage ceremony, which is not just secular, but from which all things christian / religious are actively banned? It's not just a marriage that doesn't need god, but a marriage where god is not allowed. Why should heterosexuals be allowed a legal marriage ceremony completely divorced from religion, but homosexuals be denied it on the basis that marriage is a religious institution?

I'd really like to hear your answer - but I doubt I will.
I am now in a state of marital confusion. According to various MPs, my failure to procreate and my current lack on an intention to procreate means it isn't a real marriage, and according to Rev Earley, my lack of a christian marriage ceremony means it isn't a real marriage. But according to the bureaucrats who took money off me for the honour of getting married, it is. Rev Earley, you do realise that in the UK there exists a legal civil marriage ceremony, which is not just secular, but from which all things christian / religious are actively banned? It's not just a marriage that doesn't need god, but a marriage where god is not allowed. Why should heterosexuals be allowed a legal marriage ceremony completely divorced from religion, but homosexuals be denied it on the basis that marriage is a religious institution? I'd really like to hear your answer - but I doubt I will. wewillfixit
  • Score: 0

12:32pm Wed 6 Feb 13

jacktheripperlondon says...

if you disagree with homosexuals and lesbiens getting married, fine.
but that doesn't mean you are homophobic, as is claimed.
I am not happy with homosexuals and lesbiens getting married, but that is my opinion ,and one I hold dearly.
I was alarmed by the no of homosexuals that are in parliament and running the country,how long before one is prime minister. will they have a first lady ? ughhhhh
if you disagree with homosexuals and lesbiens getting married, fine. but that doesn't mean you are homophobic, as is claimed. I am not happy with homosexuals and lesbiens getting married, but that is my opinion ,and one I hold dearly. I was alarmed by the no of homosexuals that are in parliament and running the country,how long before one is prime minister. will they have a first lady ? ughhhhh jacktheripperlondon
  • Score: 0

5:34pm Wed 6 Feb 13

Ian Bates says...

If two people wish to be married, straight, gay or other, then the law should be that people can make that commitment to one another regardless of sexual orientation.

If a person is truly religous and complies to the rules of their religion, then they can use the fascilities their church provides.
It isn't a churches responsibility to change their rules to accomodate all who wish to follow, their view may not be modern, may not be fashionable and may be considered wrong by the majority, but this is for the church leaders to decide if the teachings that have been handed down have room for change, and if not, then that is the rules of that organisation.

I believe in gay marriage, I am however straight and I would not expect my local church to allow me to get married with them if my partner and I were both devote muslims, as that would go against the christian teachings. If asked for the ceremony to be performed in any way to promote an act or way of life that was contradictory to their teachings, I wouldn't expect them to accept my booking. I would however try to find someone sympathetic to my requirements.

I understand that the churches view may be considered homophobic, but it is not something new, they are not the landlord of the local pub who happily watches the girls kissing but then chucks out the men for doing the same, they are not changing the rules to suit current trends, it is in their teachings that if you are religious enough to follow and believe in, you wouldn't be asking them to marry you to your same sex partner.
If two people wish to be married, straight, gay or other, then the law should be that people can make that commitment to one another regardless of sexual orientation. If a person is truly religous and complies to the rules of their religion, then they can use the fascilities their church provides. It isn't a churches responsibility to change their rules to accomodate all who wish to follow, their view may not be modern, may not be fashionable and may be considered wrong by the majority, but this is for the church leaders to decide if the teachings that have been handed down have room for change, and if not, then that is the rules of that organisation. I believe in gay marriage, I am however straight and I would not expect my local church to allow me to get married with them if my partner and I were both devote muslims, as that would go against the christian teachings. If asked for the ceremony to be performed in any way to promote an act or way of life that was contradictory to their teachings, I wouldn't expect them to accept my booking. I would however try to find someone sympathetic to my requirements. I understand that the churches view may be considered homophobic, but it is not something new, they are not the landlord of the local pub who happily watches the girls kissing but then chucks out the men for doing the same, they are not changing the rules to suit current trends, it is in their teachings that if you are religious enough to follow and believe in, you wouldn't be asking them to marry you to your same sex partner. Ian Bates
  • Score: 0

11:40am Thu 7 Feb 13

Mark J Douglas says...

It is a very sad sign of the times that a person cannot express an opinion without being branded homophobic or bigoted. This is a contentious debate, but a debate non the less which by definition has 2 sides.

As an aside, if you knew the man in question you would understand that there are few people out there who have earned the right to express their opinion as much as him after spending the better part of his life helping others.

Perhaps do your homework before you cast judgement on someone who has done more for his community than most would ever contemplate while reading The Guardian on Sunday sipping their Skinny Soy Latté complaining about how awful the world is but never actually doing anything about it.
It is a very sad sign of the times that a person cannot express an opinion without being branded homophobic or bigoted. This is a contentious debate, but a debate non the less which by definition has 2 sides. As an aside, if you knew the man in question you would understand that there are few people out there who have earned the right to express their opinion as much as him after spending the better part of his life helping others. Perhaps do your homework before you cast judgement on someone who has done more for his community than most would ever contemplate while reading The Guardian on Sunday sipping their Skinny Soy Latté complaining about how awful the world is but never actually doing anything about it. Mark J Douglas
  • Score: 0

12:04pm Thu 7 Feb 13

Ian Bates says...

Rev Earley has been provided the opportunity to express his opnion as reported news, however I doubt the Stroud News & Journal will provide an equal opportunity for response within their published pages.

You could take this issue up with the editor, but unfortunately she has no interest in articles she has printed (even if the less than 24 hours old).

To quote Sue Smith (editor of the Stroud News & Journal) "As they say, its old news now and I am currently putting together next week's paper."
Rev Earley has been provided the opportunity to express his opnion as reported news, however I doubt the Stroud News & Journal will provide an equal opportunity for response within their published pages. You could take this issue up with the editor, but unfortunately she has no interest in articles she has printed (even if the less than 24 hours old). To quote Sue Smith (editor of the Stroud News & Journal) "As they say, its old news now and I am currently putting together next week's paper." Ian Bates
  • Score: 0

7:58pm Thu 7 Feb 13

Salendine says...

Saying that a religious person is only following their religion is a bit like the Nuremburg defence. Fine, let the bigoted Christians follow their religion, but when they are in such conflict with the law of the land they should no longer be the Established church.
Saying that a religious person is only following their religion is a bit like the Nuremburg defence. Fine, let the bigoted Christians follow their religion, but when they are in such conflict with the law of the land they should no longer be the Established church. Salendine
  • Score: 0

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